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Manufactured Memories (or Poop Jokes and Yoga Pants)

22 Jul

“The funny thing about taking family photographs,” my husband quipped in-between poses, “is that you’re basically documenting manufactured memories.”

I have to be honest.  Our family doesn’t often look like this:

Family Portrait

All of us smiling, standing in a field brushed with sunlight, and dressed to the nines in a color-coordinating palette of blues and oranges. There is a dramatic lack of yoga pants and mis-matched toddler socks here, along with way too much grooming.

And, can I tell you a secret?  The only reason my girls are smiling is that our wonderful photographer was cracking poop jokes from behind her lens, on my suggestion (I’ll take my Mom of the Year Award now, thanks).

But despite the surreal nature of the shots Shannon caught last weekend, I disagree that they fail to capture our family.  While we may not always look just like this, it’s a perfect depiction of how I feel inside.  My girls?  They fill my life with light. And though the mundane tasks of the day and sibling squabbles dominate my schedule, there is a contentment in my family that I rarely get the chance to capture.

The closer I look at our portrait, the more I see that Shannon photographed each of our personalities perfectly.  My shy, snuggly Bean and her comedian older sister.  My husband, with his arms wrapped around every one of us, the backbone of our family.  And me, with a genuinely happy and relaxed smile.

Manufactured?  Staged?  Maybe.  But not one less bit real.

Girls in Field Photo Shoot

 


If you are in the Boston area, Shannon (who is uber-talented) is running an unbelievably amazing summer special for $149! If that wasn’t enough, she loves Warrior Moms.  Creative Images Boston will donate $15 for each session that mentions Postpartum Progress!

Summer Special

Disclaimer: I received nothing in return for my post or sharing of Shannon’s summer special.  My post was completely unsolicited.  I just adore her and her work and love to help out a fellow mama.  Shannon, you’re amazing and I’m so grateful to you for capturing my family so perfectly.

This Is Me Not Phoning It In

21 Sep

I swear I’m not phoning this in. Well, maybe just a little. You see, I’m up to my ears in crochet orders, I have a top secret project taking up 20 hours a week, and I started my fall teaching schedule. Doodlebug’s regular school schedule started, and I’m still working on purging all the strollers, bassinets, and bouncy seats we’ve collected over the years.

I have absolutely overcommitted myself and I can feel the stress tying knots in my shoulders.

But I’m okay. I can find the beauty in simple moments. I can take a deep breath and feel it work to release the tension in my body. All of this is huge for someone with an anxiety disorder.

These are little moments of joy from our last week. Of course the week was also full of tantrums, me hollering at my children in front of my neighbor, stacks of dishes on the counter, and arguments about shoes and socks. But it’s these slivers of happy that kept me going.

And so, without further ado, cute pictures of my kids to make you forget how neglectful I’ve been of this blog:

 

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First Day At Her New School

 

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Tiny My Little Pony bike helmet? Check.

 

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She’s making a book about the ocean. Flowers match flowers, right?

On Fakebook and Keepin’ It Real

28 Feb

A Mama’s Comfort Camp member shared this link to a post about how fake everyone is on FaceBook and I found myself both nodding my head and laughing as I read about the author’s chaotic and familiar Saturday.  Then I started wondering if I’m guilty of FakeBooking (thanks to @ErinMargolin of @gaydadproject for the perfect word for it).  After all, in my header photo, everyone looks happy and the background is picturesque (never mind that it still says “Happy Holidays”).

FB Header

And in my new profile picture, I have makeup on and my hair curled.  Both of these things are rare and not at all representative of my everyday life.  This is more like it:

Keepin' it real.

And yet I don’t really want this as my profile pic.  So does that mean I’m faking it?

Hmmmm…  I tend to share the bad along with the good – pictures of my dishes in the sink and trashed house.  Status updates about teething and the crummy weather.  Posts about mental illness.  I like to think I’m pretty honest about what my life is like.

I’m truly not trying to impress anyone.  Photos capturing beautiful moments and positive updates?  Are just me trying to be grateful for the bits of happiness and tranquility that punctuate the chaos of life with two small children.  My Pintrest boards?  Wishful thinking.  And any bit of cohesive writing is pieced together in stolen moments between snacktime and diaper changes.

So let’s give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  Let’s celebrate the beautiful pictures and let our friends enjoy their moments of beauty and success.  Let’s assume that they aren’t always as put together as they are in their profile pictures and be glad they’re not sharing photos of themselves sleep deprived with a giant chin zit (which they cleverly hide behind a coffee cup).  But let’s also make them feel comfortable to keep it real.   After all, if social media is going to be how we keep in touch in these digital days, let’s make it count.

I’m Actually Enjoying Sending Christmas Cards This Year

30 Nov

Christmas cards are usually the bane of my existence during the holidays.  I obsess over getting the perfect photograph, which usually results in a battle of the wills in which everyone loses.  Then I obsess over picking the perfect card and getting the best deal possible.  Signing and addressing the cards gets added to my holiday task list and I inevitably forget I will need stamps.

This year though, I’m truly enjoying the process.  MyPublisher’s holiday card collection is stunning.  I played around with three different card designs and loved all of them.  I mean, just look:

My cards arrived yesterday and I ADORE them.  The paper quality is amazing and I’m so glad I chose the matte paper option.  I love the extra class the texture brings to the card.  The designs on the front and back of the card leave plenty of room for a hand-written note, and I couldn’t be happier with how the cards look and feel in my hands.  Also?  How adorable is the packaging?  Ta Da!  Love it.


Everything came wrapped in tissue paper and I felt like I was opening up an early Christmas gift.  I actually can’t wait to sit down and hand-sign and address each card.  MyPublisher made the whole process feel special – which is exactly what I am hoping for each holiday task to feel like this year.

You can snag photo cards at 30% off right now through December 3rd with the code BEMERRY.  Go, people!  Go!

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The legal stuff:  MyPublisher provided me with a $75 gift certificate to order cards.  All opinions are my own.  I really do love my cards.  =)

Almost One

29 Nov

Maybe it’s the mid-cycle hormones, or all the pictures of friends’ new babies, but I find myself craving that newborn smell and the way a teeny baby fits into the crook of my arm.  I haven’t forgotten how hard those first few months were, and I adore this age – all the amazing milestones, the personality, the new experiences that happen between 6 and 12 months –  but as No2’s first birthday quickly approaches, I find myself increasingly nostalgic for her first few days and weeks.

Our Less-Is-More Thanksgiving

25 Nov

I’m committed to less stress this holiday season.  Instead of filling up my calendar with a list of “shoulds” I’m choosing activities that will bring our family joy, and making the most out of each task.  No more over-scheduling myself and then wondering why the holidays are exhausting.

We started our Less-Is-More holiday this weekend with Thanksgiving at my parents’ home.  I contributed tubes of crescent rolls, a Sara Lee frozen pecan pie, and two adorable grandchildren. No stressful attempt at baking with one moody preschooler and one teething baby at my feet, and no equating my worth with how much food I brought along.  We arrived when we could and let my parents and my brother enjoy the kids while we snuck downstairs to play pool.  Dinner was whenever the turkey was done, and naps were whenever the kids got tired.  We spent the rest of the day relaxing on the couch, watching football and playing cars with the kids.  No expectations.  No grand plans.  No Black Friday shopping.

It was the best Thanksgiving I can remember since those of my childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and full of family and love.

 

Eleven Months

16 Nov

I’m linking up with Alison and Galit this week for Memories Captured.  I love how they encourage me to stop and smell the roses.  Even the bittersweet ones.

When did you become this little person?  The one whose favorite food is grilled chicken and peas?  The one who loses all her bones and slumps to the floor because the disappointment over the gated stairs has overtaken her entire being?

I held you last night upon your third wakening.  I couldn’t bring myself to put you back in the crib and have you dream for all those hours away from me.  It seems like only a moment ago we were one being.  And now here you are, weeks, days away from turning one year old.

It has been an amazing eleven months, sweet Bean.  You and I have accomplished so much together, learned so much from one another.  You have given me the first year I always wanted, unmarred by postpartum depression’s sharp talons.  And I have to admit I’m a little devastated it’s almost over.  Not just sad or nostalgic.  I watch you stand and wobble, try to put your socks on your toes, or color a little picture and as proud as I am of you, and as excited as I am to watch you experience your world, I mourn for the loss of the baby you were just the day before.

I want to sob, “Please don’t turn one.  Please don’t leave me,” and yet I know that you are not mine.  You came through me, but you are not mine to keep.  And so I will stand here helpless to stop time.  And I will try my best to let you grow.

 

Four

15 Oct

 

I’m linking up with with  Tracy,  Galit , and Alison for Memories Captured today.  They’ve asked us to honor our children – to take a moment and celebrate who they are and to be respectful of them when we write.  I use this blog to share my own feeling about motherhood and my experience living with a mental illness, so I am always mindful of what my children might think when they read it many years from now.  I want it to reflect how much I cherish them, but also how challenging it has been for me to become a parent and to balance my life with the life of this family.  I hope they will take all the imperfections I share here and see their mother as more than just “mom,” instead a whole person with hopes, dreams, struggles, and bad days.

But when they read this post, (Hi, Doodlebug!  Hi, Bean!) all I want them to see is how proud I am to be their mother.  Because I am.  Even on the hardest days and the longest nights, I am.

No1 turned four this past week.  During her party, all the kids climbed into the giant-cardboard-box-turned-convertible and pretended to drive to Story Land.  They all played so nicely together the whole party and No1 was in the middle of it all, being celebrated and lavished with the affection her bright personality brings to all of us.  I love this picture.  I love how she’s surrounded by her friends.  I love the look of belonging I can see in her eyes.  I hope that this is one birthday she will actually remember years from now, because it was incredible.  She is incredible.

 

 

 

 

Almost Wordless Wednesday – Birthday Party Sneak Peek

10 Oct

I’m knee-deep in stress of my own creation. The house is covered in projects and the floor is spattered with paint. The preschooler turns four tomorrow and I have a sneaky suspicion I’m keeping myself busy so as to not think about how big she’s gotten or how her smallest days are fading away.

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Wordless Wednesday – 9 Months Then and Now

19 Sep

No1 at 9 months old.

No2 at almost 9 months.

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